Country Profile

Sri Lanka

Two Latter-day Saint missionaries, Chauncey W. West and Benjamin F. Dewey, arrived in Ceylon in May 1853. They briefly labored in Galle and Colombo but could find neither a hall in which to preach nor a person to listen to their message, thanks largely to the influence of anti-Mormon tracts and newspaper articles. They remained in the country only a short time before returning to India.

The Church’s next official contact with Sri Lanka was in August 1975, when two missionaries en route home from the Singapore Mission were assigned to stop in Sri Lanka to explore the prospects for initiating missionary work. They reported favorably.

In 1976, Clarence Long, a Latter-day Saint from Texas, visited Colombo on business and became acquainted with Reginald and Easvary Rasiah and presented them with a Book of Mormon. Their son, Rosignald traveled to the U.S. to work for Long and was baptized in Texas in June 1977. Reginald and Easvary Rasiah were baptized in August 1977, a few of their family members  and others were baptized in ensuing months.

The Sri Lanka Branch (a small congregation) was organized in March 1978 with Reginald Rasiah as president. The Church was officially registered in March 1979.

In 1979, the Genealogical Society of Utah started microfilming Sri Lanka’s vital records. The Church and the Rotary Club in Columbo worked together to start a program to teach English as a second language in February 1982.

Several senior couples served in Sri Lanka beginning in the late 1970s. They did not actively proselyte, but taught those who requested more information about the Church. Missionaries were removed from the country at different times due to civil war. Sri Lanka had one branch and 135 members in 1990. Limited numbers of young foreign missionaries were allowed to serve there beginning about the late 1990s. This led to accelerated Church growth.

The first chapel in Sri Lanka was dedicated in December 2001. In 2003, membership reached 783.

 

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Bradford Hillam
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